On Saturday, January 8, Milken’s a cappella choir, Kol Echad, presented One Voice, a benefit concert for the children of Yemin Orde who lost their homes in the devastating Carmel fire in early December.
Yemin Orde is a youth village home to orphans, new immigrants, and children who come from broken homes all over the country to find support, shelter, and a prestigious education.
A companionship was sparked between Yemin Orde and Kol Echad when Yemin Orde’s youth choir came to sing with Kol Echad two months ago.
“I’m sure that I speak for all of Kol Echad when I say Yemin Orde’s choir truly touched each and every one of us,” Ruthie Rabinovitch ’12, co-chair of the event, said.
Therefore, when Kol Echad found out that the childrens’ home and school had been devastated in the fire, they were overcome with sadness. As a result, the students channeled these emotions into a drive to make a difference.
“My original motives were to collect clothing, school supplies, and house supplies – anything that would provide them with immediate help. However, we were thrilled to find out that Yemin Orde was overflowing with material assistance. So when Kol Echad was informed of this tragedy, everyone came together immediately and decided that we would plan this benefit concert in order to provide them with much-needed monetary support in the span of just a few short weeks,” Rabinovitch said.
After a work-filled winter break, Mr. Kelly Shepard, director of Kol Echad and department chair of performing arts, and the benefit committee emerged with an impressive list of prestigious performers and generous sponsors.
“It was heartwarming to see what a great response [we received]. People donated as much as they could, and every penny was truly appreciated,” Brigitte Toubia ’11, co-chair of the event, said.
Attendants were impressed with the diverse array of performances, the talented voices of our very own Milken students, and most of all, the admirable way that Shepard and the students of Kol Echad rose to the occasion in the face of disaster, raising over $25,000 in the process.
The night began with a performance by Kol Echad with songs fitting the night’s purpose. Four sets of musical performances were held, sprinkled with speeches in between. Guest speakers included Naty Saidoff of the Israeli Leadership Council and Jackie Louk of Friends of Yemin Orde, whose organizations were both generous sponsors of the event. Sammy Amina, a graduate of Yemin Orde, and Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple also spoke.
Mayim Bialik, a well-known actress and pro-Israel advocate kept the night running smoothly as the Master of Ceremonies.
Craig Taubman, Dale Schatz, Red Harmony, and cantors from various Los Angeles synagogues kept the audience entertained throughout the second set of performances. A variety of student singers and musicians performed afterwards.
In the final set of the night, Kol Echad executed vibrant, heartfelt harmonies. Attendees noted that their highlights included a lively rendition of “Somebody to Love” and the soulful “Hold Me, Rock Me.” Shepard surprised the audience with a song of his own, expressing his pride in his students who had determinedly worked countless hours preparing for the night. And for the finale, Milken graduates were invited to the stage for a rendition of “We are the World,” a song that echoes the inspiration and hope that drove the students of Kol Echad to produce this fundraiser for the Yemin Orde Youth Village.
“I was very impressed with the overwhelming Los Angeles community outpouring of monetary donations, attendance, and overall support,” Shepard said. “Milken is a community school and therefore we are able to touch so many diverse communities. I am so proud of the kids of Kol Echad who really reached out and were able to produce such a success.”